Making a Difference with Qualitative Longitudinal Research - Online

Organised by

University of Leeds (online)


Professor Bren Neale


23/06/2021 - 24/06/2021


Run Online by University of Leeds


View in Google Maps  (LS2 9JT)


Marie Johnson


Fluid Enquiry, Complex Causality, Policy Processes: Making a difference with Qualitative Longitudinal Research.

This course is for post-doctoral or established researchers who have qualitative research skills and experience but are new to QL enquiry or wish to refine their skills in policy-related QL research.

This two day ‘live’ interactive workshop will provide an introduction to qualitative longitudinal enquiry. Three aspects of this rich methodology will be explored here: the design features of QL enquiry and its roots in fluid notions of time; the nature of complex causality; and the potential of QL enquiry to create real-time impact in policy processes and interventions.

The course will take the form of three lectures, followed by Q and A sessions; two workshops, followed by interactive feedback sessions; and one-to-one surgeries for researchers who wish to discuss their own projects. These online and interactive sessions will be supported through the provision of reading materials, power point slides and suggestions for further reading.

The course will run from 11am to 2.30pm each day.

Day One

In the first session of the day, delegates will be introduced to the principles and design features of qualitative longitudinal (QL) research, set in the context of a broadly based processual turn in social enquiry. The unique power of this methodology – the combination of its real-time operation and its interactive, real-world engagement - will be explored, along with its conceptual foundations in temporal theory and abductive (iterative) forms of logic and reasoning. Its  application in policy/practice settings and processes will be introduced.   

In the workshop session, delegates will work individually and in pairs to explore the process of generating temporal data. They will be introduced to life mapping techniques, and will have the opportunity to construct a life map and use this as the basis for life journey interviewing. 

In the final session of the day, we will explore the nature of causality from a qualitative perspective, and draw distinctions between simple (variance, inference-based) models of causality and complex causality, which is multiple, fluid and relational. QL studies that utilise complex causal understandings will be showcased here. The session will conclude by considering some of the challenges of working with complex causality and importing it into policy processes.    

Day Two

The first session of the day will address the power of QL research to engage with and make a difference in the real world, and to do so in real-time. Delegates will be introduced to QL impact research, and its synergies with action, partnership and design based modes of research. These seek not only to track and evaluate policy processes, but to design new initiatives and create and facilitate change through the creation of conceptual impacts (changing the way we see things) and instrumental impact (changing the way we do things).

In the workshop session, delegates will work in small groups to design a QL study, with the aim of making a difference and creating impact in real world processes.

The course is suitable for doctoral and established researchers who are either new to this methodology or wish to refresh or enhance their research practice. It will be delivered by Bren Neale, a specialist in QL research and the author of two books on this methodology.

Key resources: (these will be provided)

Neale, B. (2021) ‘Fluid enquiry, complex causality, policy processes: Making a difference with qualitative longitudinal research’ Social Policy and Society (themed section on QL research, edited by Patrick et al). This paper will be sent to all delegates

Neale, B (2021) The Craft of Qualitative Longitudinal Research. London: Sage. Excerpts on longitudinal impact research will be sent to all delegates.  

Suggested Further Reading:

Dall, T. and Danneris, S. (2019) ‘Reconsidering ‘what works’ in welfare to work with the vulnerable unemployed: The potential of relational causality as an alternative approach’, Social Policy and Society, 18 (4): 583-596.

Kislov, R. (2019) Going native in order to make a difference? Tensions of longitudinal participatory research, BMJ Open 9: (Suppl. 1) 014

McKenney, S and Reeves, T. (2018) Conducting Educational Design Research (2nd edition). London: Routledge.

Monaghan, M. and Ingold, J. (2019) ‘Policy practitioners’ accounts of evidence-based policy making: The case of universal credit’, Journal of Social Policy, 48 (2):  351-368.

Penuel, W. and Gallagher, D. (2017) Creating Research-Practice Partnerships in Education. Cambridge MA: Harvard Education Press.


Intermediate (some prior knowledge)


£30.00 for UK registered postgraduate students, £60.00 for staff at UK/EU academic institutions, UK/EU public sector staff, staff at UK/EU registered charity organisations and recognised UK/EU research institutions and £100 for all other participants

Website and registration


Yorkshire and Humberside


Explanatory Research and Causal analysis, Longitudinal Research , Qualitative longitudinal research (QLR), Evaluation Research, Meta-Analysis, Collaborative approaches

Related publications and presentations

Explanatory Research and Causal analysis
Longitudinal Research
Qualitative longitudinal research (QLR)
Evaluation Research

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